Catherine “Kay” Phillippe succumbs to cancer

Groundbreaker was first PC(USA) woman associate stated clerk

November 18, 2014

Kay Phillippe

Kay Phillippe

Catherine M. Phillippe, one of the more elegant, graceful and grace-filled Presbyterians the world has known, died after a momentous struggle with breast cancer on Friday, Nov. 14, in Princeton, N.J. She was 75.

Kay, as she was known, began work in the Office of the General Assembly of the former Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUS) in 1975. Following Presbyterian reunion in 1983 she became the first woman Associate Stated Clerk, a position she held until retirement in 1994.

All along the way Kay and her husband, Bill ― who served the denomination in a variety of capacities ― cut a wide swath of competence, faithful service and good humor through the Presbyterian Church.

Among other things, Kay was responsible for the organization of the then annual meeting of the PC(USA) General Assembly. She staffed many national committees of the General Assembly and was known for her tenacity, knowledge of the workings of the General Assembly, and wonderful spirit. 

“Everyone who was around her commented about her graciousness and civility,” Bill Phillippe told the Presbyterian News Service, “even in the midst of General Assembly.”

Deb Davies, who worked for Kay Phillippe and then succeeded her as General Assembly meeting coordinator, said, “Kay was my first supervisor in the Office of the General Assembly (in 1987), and a wonderful mentor.

“Her love of the church and belief in the importance of the General Assembly as its most inclusive governing body was implicit in all she did, and she conveyed that by word and deed, along with the how of planning meetings,” Davies added. “She was a generous and gracious leader and friend, and is truly missed.”

A memorial service will be held in Alexandria’s Old Presbyterian Meeting House on Friday, Dec. 5 at 11:00.

  1. Kay was my very good friend and I will miss her so much. I thank God we spent so many wonderful times together--in China, Thailand and Cambodia, in Norway, Sweden and Estonia and so many other places. She and I always laughed and usually shared a glass of wine or prosecco at the "cocktail hour". She was a most gracious and engaging woman. I will remember her always.

    by Cindy Douglass

    November 25, 2014